Public School Professionals by Groff Schroeder
Quick! What is the product of seven times eight? What is the square root of forty-nine? Who delivered the Gettysburg Address? Where is Mount Everest? How do you spell blueberries? What equation defines the area of a circle? What is an adjective - a noun? Who was the third President of the United States? What is the capital of Oregon - of France? The list is endless.
Chances are you know the answers to these questions and countless others because of public education and professional educators. For most Americans, property taxes paid by the People of your state provided you with free educational services for 13 long years (longer in California). Story problems, the once-dreaded nemesis now comprising virtually every calculation in the real world of adulthood, were probably first solved by your developing brain in the public schools, courtesy of one of America's dedicated public school teachers.
Chronically underpaid (a few years ago starting garbage collectors in New York City were paid about the same as starting public school professionals), often maligned and even hated, public school teachers, administrators and staff provide a safe haven and rich educational experiences for millions of American schoolchildren every day. Like physicians and lawyers, public school teachers are true professionals, holding both bachelors and graduate degrees, passing an examination for certification, facing penalties for ethical misconduct and participating in continuing education. Many complete specialized educational curricula, and most spend their own money supplying their classrooms and students in an environment of chronically sheared budgets. Public schools provide the best meal of the day to many children.
Well fed and independently funded, powerful federal politicians openly disregard Constitutional restrictions and federal law, punishing mediocre performance in the public schools with counterproductive testing requirements and other unfunded mandates. Expecting the highway department to improve highways by cutting funding for repairs and improvements would be laughable to them, but somehow they think this will work (as opposed to investing in infrastructure, personnel and new technologies) with troubled local public schools. Repeated local attempts at emulating international educational successes with extended school days or years usually ignites great opposition and resentment, often from the very people whose children would benefit most from longer school days, extended school years and increased afternoon supervision.
For the most part, Americans love their local public school and their kid's teachers, but somehow appear to dislike public school teachers in general and public education as a whole. Some complain about paying taxes to educate other people's children - even though taxpayers of generations passed funded their education. Others may oppose aspects of the science curriculum, like the foundation of modern biology, evolution. While one parent, religious or political group advocates teaching their religious beliefs in public schools and works to exclude other beliefs and even possible contradictions, yet another may prefer the teaching of a different religious doctrine. Often, a neutral position excluding all systems requiring faith and focusing instead upon the verifiable, repeatable methods of science founding modern technological society, pleases neither.
In the middle, local public schools and professional educators soldier on, doing the best they can with minimalist budgets and what they provide for themselves and their students. While some citizens may dislike public schools and their teachers, without them America would be a very different place, and we all owe them professional respect, and a great deal more.